I’ve been using a Canon A570 IS for a couple of years, a perfectly serviceable compact camera I got for around $100. It takes fine pictures as long as the light is good, but I’ve been envious of my friends who took better pictures than I could when the light isn’t so good. So I started looking for a new camera.
At first, I thought I was going to get something like the Canon SX10 IS, a bulky camera with a 20x zoom and lots of megapixels. But I stalled after getting bait-and-switched, and a couple of months of casual research later I realized that wasn’t the camera I was looking for.
I’ve never cared much whether a camera has removable lenses, and that always seemed to be the big advantage of expensive SLR cameras.
I now think that the big advantage of expensive SLR cameras is not the fancy removable lenses, but the huge-ass sensor. SLRs have a sensor that’s about ten times the size as compact cameras, which theoretically means it can can get ten times as much light in the same picture.
It seemed to me that megapixels should be a good indicator of a camera’s resolution, but when I did comparisons with my camera at 2 megapixels and 7 megapixels, the quality of the pictures was almost indistinguishable. Yes, the higher resolution image has four times as many dots, but the extra dots are mostly crap.
I’ve taken to shooting at only 2 megapixels, because it reduces my time uploading pictures from the camera, and the picture quality isn’t any different. (Below 2 megapixels I started to see the difference.)
SLR cameras are expensive (maybe $300 at a bare minimum), and what’s worse, near as I can tell, they’re a total money pit. Once you get one, apparently you start having inexplicable urges to buy fancy new lenses, and flashes, and tripods, and who knows what else.